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Microsoft's putting <i>everything</i> online

Microsoft's putting everything online

Well, not everything. But lots.

First there was the breathless announcement Tuesday that we've been talking about for weeks: that Gates & Co. is moving a lot of the Microsoft Office applications (such as word processing, spreadsheet, presentations, and so on) online in an Office Live suite targeted at small business. Some of the applications will even be free (well, ad-supported) at lower levels.

Then we see the company is not only making Internet phone calls available through the package, but that it's also purchased another Internet telephony company. And we see a rumor Microsoft may go online with some CRM and ERP--stuff that helps you manage customers and orders and keep revenue up and costs down.

Of course, Web-based CRM (that's customer relationship management) company Salesforce.com is thoroughly unimpressed: "Their shrink-wrapped analogues are dead? Endorsement of our model only helps us; their half-hearted impersonation of it only hurts them," says the CEO.

Me, I'm kind of excited at the thought of never having to buy small-business software again. I'll just walk around with my laptop, a microphone, and a headset. But I'm less excited about having to let companies whose software I use sift money from my bank accounts every month. (When will someone start on the on-demand model, rather than forcing a subscription?) I just hope competition does not get squashed and does keep the price down or that the ad-supported stuff is really worth the time it takes to use it.